Downward Facing Dog

adho mukha shvanasana

Level: Beginner

Instructions

1. From Table position, tuck the toes under, press into the hands and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling.

2. Spread the fingers wide apart with the middle finger facing forward, and the palms shoulder width apart. Press the out through the fingers and edges of the hands.

3. Using straight (but not locked) arms, press the hips up and back reaching the chest towards the thighs. Lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long.

4. Have the feet are hip’s width apart with the toes facing forward. Press the heels into the floor feeling a stretch in the back of the legs. The legs are straight, or you can have a small bend at the knees to keep the back flat.

5. Let the head and neck hang freely from the shoulders or look up at the belly button.

6. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths.

7. To release: bend the knees and lower the hips back to Table position, or come all the way down to child pose.

Benefits + Contraindications

Benefits: Downward facing dog deeply stretches the back, opens the chest, and builds upper body strength. This posture stimulates the brain and nervous system, improving memory, concentration, hearing and eyesight.

Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the back, hips, arms or shoulders, unmediated high blood pressure.

Modifications + Variations

Modifications:  A) Use blocks under the hands or head. B) Place a folded towel under the wrists. C) Press both heels against a wall.

Variations: Dolphin pose, One Leg Down Dog, Down Dog Twist.

Vinyasa

Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence leading up to this pose: Table, Cat, Dog, Tiger.

Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence ending after this pose: Plank, Upward Facing Dog, Child, High Lunge.

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